10/02/2013 03:49 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Surrey Six trial: nephew of victim escaped shooting

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The trial of three men accused of shooting six others in a Surrey high-rise apartment six years ago continued today with testimony from the young nephew of one of the innocent victims.

Zachary Brown was working with his uncle Ed Schellenberg servicing the gas fireplaces in the Balmoral Tower on the day of the shooting. It was his first week on the job.

He was supposed to service apartment 1505, but his uncle told him he would do it, after Schellenberg was warned by the building manager about the suspicious activities of the people coming and going from the unit.

Brown told the court on Wednesday morning that he heard three or four steady noises, but didn't think anything of it.

Within hours the manager of the apartment building had discovered the six dead bodies, including Schellenberg's, in apartment 1505.

Trial began Monday

Three men accused of the killings, which took place in a Surrey highrise in 2007, all pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges at the opening of the trial on Monday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Matthew James Johnston and Cody Rae Haevischer are charged with six counts of first-degree murder and Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le is facing one charge of first-degree murder.

Two other men charged in the case, Jamie Kyle Bacon and Sophon Sek, will be tried separately at a later date.

Prosecutors say they intend to prove that Johnston and Haevischer went to the apartment to kill victim Corey Lal because he failed to meet a deadline to repay a $100,000 drug debt.

They say the accused killed the other five people in the apartment so there would be no witnesses to the murder of Lal.

Prosecutors said the six bodies were found in two groups of three inside the apartment. A total of 19 shots were fired in the massacre, which took place around 2:40 p.m. PT on Oct. 19, 2007.

The six all had their heads covered and shots were fired directly into the backs of the heads of three of the victims. One other was shot in the back, another in the head, and one in the face and neck.

The three accused were all members of the Red Scorpions gang, the Crown said.

But only two, Johnston and Haevischer, are charged with the first-degree murders of two victims — Christopher Mohan, 22, and Ed Schellenberg, 55 — whom police have described as bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At the time, Metro Vancouver was in the grips of a violent gang war dominated by a deadly rivalry between the Red Scorpions and the UN gangs.

Four of the victims, Ryan Bartolomeo,19, brothers Michael Lal, 26, and Cory Lal, 21, and Edward Narong, 22, were described by police as having criminal lifestyles.